Gratitude is something I've struggled with showing, and I tend to spiral into a negative mindset. Research has shown numerous benefits of gratitude journaling, and it is proven to have positive impacts on mental health.

Sometimes it's easy to overlook everything that's going right in your life and instead fixate on all the negative aspects. After all, negativity bias is very commonly observed in psychological studies; negative occurrences tend to have a greater impact on one's magnitude of emotionality than positive occurrences.

And at some point that becomes hard to change. Personally I found that as my negative thoughts turned into actions, my mental health and well-being suffered tremendously.

But I didn't want to change--it's hard to change a mindset when you settle into one and become comfortable with it. That's why Daily Planter allows you to write your thoughts next to a plant friend which flourishes or never grows depending on the positivity of your words. Because similarly, if I keep dwelling on the negatives and forget about the things I love and am happy for, I won't grow either!

What it does

Daily planter is meant to motivate you to think positively and write about things you are grateful for and any positive emotions you are having so that you don't overlook them! The goal is to encourage users to use write from their stream of consciousness daily as a method of expression and mental relief, all the while encouraging and reminding the user to use positive wording so that their plant can grow. When more positive words are used, the plant will grow, and when more negative words are used, the plant will shrink.

Daily planter motivates you to grow along your plant as you detach yourself from negative emotions by providing an active method of expressing positivity and gratitude through empathy towards your plant.

How I built it

I built this using HTML5, CSS, and Javascript/JQuery. For the sentiment analysis, I used a JS file containing a dictionary of words, and with scores of either positive or negative. I used this scoring and actively summed the score based while the user was typing. I stored the pictures of the plants in an array in Javascript, and cycled through them forward or backward depending on the sentiment rating.

Challenges I ran into

Before coming to AthenaHacks, I had very limited experience with Javascript. I had only taken online courses, and had not worked on many projects, so it was a bit difficult for me to incorporate what I learned into something tangible. I had issues trying to implement APIs and backend--though I had planned to make journal entries saveable and have a directory for them, I wanted to focus on learning Javascript/JQuery. CSS was also difficult for me--I'd know this coming in with all the jokes about how hard it was to get elements where you want them to be. Working alone was also very difficult, especially since I had to work out all of my problems on my own, and came in with limited knowledge. Coming from a Cognitive Science major, I had some difficulty starting programming but definitely felt more comfortable in the front-end environment with each line of code code.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Although this is not my first hackathon, this is my first time being able to submit a project! I'm proud of the new skills I learned, and becoming more comfortable with Javascript as well as learning JQuery. I also think I improved in HTML and CSS and generally working in front end development. Though it may seem trivial, I'm really proud of assembling the UI together as well.

What I learned

I learned that front end development is much more difficult than I thought. I learned a great deal about Javascript and JQuery, and eventually became comfortable with them. In addition I learned how to look for help on the internet--always a good resource.

I also learned to ask for help when I need it, and that everyone has to start somewhere so I shouldn't be ashamed to seek help. Also, sometimes the thing you're trying to use will not necessarily work. But there are plenty of other things for you to use, and such is the benefit of coding--there's usually an alternative option to explore, so I learned that I shouldn't give up when I'm stuck, and instead seek help from either other people or other resources. Overall this has been a very empowering experience for me, in both personal and technical development!

What's next for Daily Planter

I'm hoping to learn more about backend development so I can really cater the journal to different users and make users able to personalize their own journal. I'd also like to implement an option to vent--instead if you are vastly overwhelmed with stress and negative thoughts, there might be an option for you to type out all of your thoughts as fast as you can--the plant will start withering the longer you pause between sentences and words, and grows as you type continuously. Writing things down is extremely important and has helped me so much in trying times--the sooner you write something down, the sooner you can separate those thoughts into an entity separated from you. I hope to create a directory of different pages for each users, as well as a calendar "garden" full of their plants/previous entries. I also hope to create illustrations and update the UI!

I also attended Facebook's iOS workshop and really enjoyed it, so here's hoping for a future mobile app, if not a related app to supplement it!

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